General Motors has often been the focus of criticism at Generation Why – despite what some of the B&B suggest, it’s merely a function of the fact that they put themselves out there the most when it comes to publicizing their youth marketing efforts. But it’s time to reward their efforts with some free, unsolicited advice from a know-it-all keyboard jockey.
The above car isn’t anything Chevy is going to put into production. Instead, it’s a photoshop concocted by my friend Jover according to what I think about be a suitable “halo car” for Generation Why. With Chevrolet’s portfolio full of sensible, fuel-efficient cars like the Spark and Sonic, I figured something a bit flashier and more upscale would be something that young, image-conscious people would actually want to buy, invoking their emotions and desires rather than appealing to largely rational factors like price, fuel efficiency or practicality. If you would be so kind as to indulge me, the output of my thought exercise is below.
The above car would use the Cruze’s Delta architecture. think of this as a re-imagining of the slightly gawky Tru 140S concept, because Chevy got the Code 130R (which would be rear-drive and presumably be based on the Alpha architecture) fairly correct from the start. That means that yes, it’s front wheel drive. Big deal. Most consumers don’t care. If they do, they are going to buy a Camaro or a Scion FR-S. Front-drive would also allow for better packaging; believe it or not, carting around your friends and throwing “lifestyle accessories” matters more than 50/50 weight distribution.
The base engine would be the 1.4T 4-cylinder engine, with the same 6-speed manual and automatic gearboxes as the Cruze. Hopefully, a power bump could be engineered – acceleration in a Cruze is adequate, but any car with sporting pretensions has to have forward thrust that goes beyond “acceptable”. There could also be an Eco model that employs the active aero shutters and low rolling-resistance tires like the Cruze Eco. Higher trim levels could use the 2.0L LHU turbochagred 4-cylinder from the Buick Regal. With 220 and 270 horsepower trims available, there’s room for a mid-grade and a high-performance version that would echo the Cobalt SS.
Unlike the Cobalt SS, the above concept wouldn’t be a factory tuner special. The whole car is supposed to look upscale and mature, like an Audi A5/S5 for people who don’t make the Audi’s MSRP as their yearly salary. While cars like the Hyundai Veloster and Chevrolet Sonic are literally going after those with youthful sensibilities, this would be a car for young people (or anyone, really) that is looking for something more mature, something that wouldn’t be embarrassing to take clients out to lunch in (or take someone out on a date in). The character lines at the rear may look particularly S5-ish, but they’re actually borrowed from the new Malibu. The goal is to keep Chevrolet design cues while still compelling people to ask “what is that?” if they saw it on the street.
The interior would be the place where a grand bargain would have to be made; to touchscreen, or not to touchscreen? Having not had the chance to use the MyLink touchscreen system in the new Malibu or Spark, I can’t endorse it in good faith. I do know that the conventional buttons-and-knobs layout in the Cruze, Orlando and other vehicles is intuitive and easy to use. That can be standard, along with Bluetooth, a USB port and yes, an auxiliary input jack. Those three, more than any kind of touchscreen, or streaming music app, are the must-have features for a new car today. Base versions could come with cloth seats and monochrome surfaces, but higher grade versions could get leather and the earth-tone leather and dash surfaces seen on the 2013 Malibu and other vehicles.
With a Cruze starting at $16,800 and a Camaro starting at $23,280 (not to mention, the Scion FR-S at $24,930 and the Genesis at $25,125), an appropriate price point for this car becomes tough to nail down. A base version, at $18,995, is still accessible to a fair amount of younger buyers without being too bargain basement. More powerful versions (especially a 270 horsepower version loaded to the gills) could push deeper into Genesis Coupe territory. Even if it didn’t quite have the performance cred, the upscale styling and premium interior would help draw in a buyer more concerned about making the 7:15 movie screening than running a 7:15 on the Nurburgring. That’s not to say that this car has to be a compromised, sloppy-handling poseur-mobile, but think of it as, well, an Audi A5, whereas the Scion FR-S is more focused and driver oriented like a BMW 3-Series. There’s no use in trying to beat Toyota and Subaru at their own game. Instead, this car would focus on a different set of criteria, sacrificing some outright driving engagement for more upscale look and feel. A future vehicle based on the Alpha platform can do that, and be positioned at a higher price point if need be.
The only thing missing is a name.